There is some irony in this political moment that when women have the collective power to fell titans of the patriarchy by the week, they are using that power to insist on their own powerlessness.
When it comes to power, they — we — are chronically ambivalent.
Studies of hiring bias in dozens of professions (musicians, artists, pilots, biologists, bankers) have shown that people — men and women alike — judge women gunning for power as somehow diseased.
In one of the most depressing of these reports, Madeline Heilman at New York University gave out identical résumés for “Andrea” and “James,” saying only that these applicants were “rising stars” in their field.
No one bristles at, say, a mother storming into the principal’s office to demand a new teacher for her son, or a female head of HR fighting for her employees.
But how unfair is it to be denied the right to be selfish?
So, judging from the videotape alone, who in that situation has power?
I bring this up not to deny the general thesis that men have power and many women are powerless.
Andrea was judged as “downright uncivil,” Heilman wrote, although there was no information at all given about her personality.
People merely bridled at the thought of what a woman must have done to be labeled a rising star.